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General Information #

Emerson.build gives participating Emersonians full control over their own web domains and the ability to easily create and launch a wide range of websites for academic or personal use.

Emerson.build users have access to powerful open source Internet tools that will allow them to create online portfolios, exhibits, online journals and magazines, wikis, FAQs, and many other kinds of digital resources and publications for use in courses, the co-curriculum or wherever and however else they choose. All Emerson.build users have full control and ownership of the content they create and share, even after they move beyond Emerson.

What you need to know:

  • Any student, staff, or faculty member at Emerson can get a free domain
  • Your domain will read: “[anyname].emerson.build”
  • There are options to redirect or buy a unique URL
    • i.e. anyname.com could be yours
  • Support from Emerson’s Instructional Technology Group

Domains are your personal space on the web.

Choose any name you’d like, bearing in mind that this is a place you might send future employers. (Or a place that future  employers might find when they google your name.) Build a site…

  • Dedicated to your cumulative body of work
  • Chronicling your crazy adventures
  • Full of fabulous photography
  • Or anything! The possibilities are endless!

See the Showcase for inspiration.

Visit the sections below to learn how to create your own personal or course websites on Emerson.build.

Choosing Your Domain Name #

Choosing your domain name is the first step in getting started with staking your claim on the web. Your domain name is really just a unique Web address that can be used to build out your own digital presence. When you sign up for Emerson.build, your domain name will, by default, be a subdomain of the form “YOURNAME.emerson.build”. Not all of the considerations below will apply while choosing this first subdomain name. If you later choose to purchase your own custom domain name, all of the following are good to keep in mind.

Your Domain Name Must Be Available: Domain names must be unique, which means in order for you to claim your own, you need to be sure that it is currently available (and not being used by any one else or any company or organization). There are lots of tools to check on domain availability, and when you sign up on emerson.build, we’ll actually check the availability of your choice for you. If you’d like to spend some time thinking about your choice and checking availability before you actually sign-up, we recommend using whois.net.

You Must Choose a “Top Level Domain” or TLD: The TLD is the suffix (or ending part) of your domain name. Some common ones you’ve likely seen before are: .com, .net, .org., and .edu. On emerson.build, you won’t have an opportunity to change this when you first sign up. For custom domain names, you may choose which one you want to use. Note that the availability of your desired domain name may depend upon the TLD you choose. Historically, .com domains were meant for businesses and commercial entities. On the other hand, .org domains were usually used by non-profit organizations. The .net domain was meant to be used by internet service providers. All of that said, the “historic” uses of these TLDs mean very little anymore. You may find that .com domains are easier for people to remember, or you may like the “non-commercial” message of using a .org. The bottom line is that your choice of a TLD is entirely personal.

Choose a Domain You Can Live With: You should choose a domain name that you feel you can live with for quite some time. You should pick something that you won’t find embarrassing in the future. A good rule of thumb is to pick a domain that you would be comfortable putting on a future job application.

You May Wish to Include Your Name in Your Domain: There is no requirement that your domain reflect your specific identity in the form of your first and last name. However, choosing a domain name that includes your name may make it easier for you to achieve higher rankings in search engines when someone queries your real name.

Pick a Domain you Like: At the end of the day, your domain should reflect you. Pick a domain you like and are proud of. It can reflect your interests, sports you play, or your hobby. Or it could just be your name. The “right” domain for you is the one you’re comfortable with.

Privacy and Emerson.build #

What you put up in your Emerson.build space rests entirely with you. You can choose not to pick a domain that reveals your name. You can use a pseudonym on your actual site. However, when you sign up through the default process, your name does get published as part of the public record about your domain name. Anyone can find it by looking up details about the ownership of that domain name through a public “Whois” request.

This is NOT an issue if you’re already planning on using your name openly on your site (in your domain name or elsewhere). This option is aimed, specifically, at those who, for whatever reason, feel they want to take every precaution to hide their identity on their site.

Signing up on Emerson.build #

Reviewing the Guidelines

Before you get started, we recommend that you review our information about Choosing a Domain Name.

The Sign-Up Process

Once you’ve reviewed the guidelines, you can proceed to the sign-up page.

Click on the top, right hand side where it says Dashboard.

Emerson.build homepage with menu item "Dashboard" circled.

You will be redirected to login for verification. You will use your Emerson username and password to login.

Emerson.build login form via Duo

Create a Free Subdomain

If this is your first time accessing Emerson.build, you’ll be asked to create your free subdomain. Enter in the domain name you want for your website. (*Note: your domain will look like name.emerson.build. ) When you’ve found an available subdomain, click the button labeled Click to Continue.

Emerson.build "Choosing Your Domain" form

You will be taken to a screen where you can confirm the domain you’ve chosen and review your contact information. If you’re ready to confirm, click Register Now. Otherwise, you can Start Over or contact us for help with the sign up process.

Emerson.build sign up process' final step

After you click “Register Now”, you will be brought to the cPanel and are on your way to creating your own Emerson.build space!

Understanding Emerson.build's Accounts & Passwords #

One aspect of Emerson.build that users may find a bit complicated at first is understanding the different accounts (and associated passwords) that you can manage as part of your participation in the project. This article outlines the types of accounts that you are likely to have, what they are for, and how you go about resetting passwords on each of them.

Your cPanel Account

When you first sign-up for your domain and hosting, a cPanel account will be generated that provides you with access to your slice of the Emerson.build web server. Your cPanel account is automatically associated with your Emerson account. Therefore, your Emerson account credentials will grant you access to your cPanel account.

Your Application Administrator Accounts

Every time you install a new application in cPanel, an Administrator Account for that application will be created so that you can login and manage its content and settings. Usually, you will be given the opportunity to choose the username and password for that account. These accounts are separate from your Emerson account; you should not use the same password. We recommend choosing something that you are likely to remember but that is strong and secure.

Upon installation, you may receive an email confirming the user-id/password combination you chose as well as how to access the login page for that application. You may wish to make sure you don’t delete this message.

For applications that you install via the Installatron, you can also review and manage your administrator account login credentials at any time using your cPanel account. Simply click “My Apps” under “Applications” in your cPanel to access the list. Depending on the application, you may also be able to login as the application administrator without manually entering the username and password.

For example, if you use the install WordPress through the Installatron, your “My Apps” list will look like this:

"My Applications" in the Installatron link for access to the WordPress dashboard without logging in.

The “/word/wp-admin/” link under your blog’s title will take you straight into the administrator dashboard for this application without you having to enter your username and password. From there, you can add content, change your theme, approve comments, etc. However, you may still need to enter the administrator password in order to install a new theme or plugin.

Resetting your Administrator Account Password

Depending on the application you’re working with, managing and resetting the password for this account will vary. If you’ve used Installatron (in cPanel) to install the application, however, you can always review and change the account credentials using the following steps:

  • Login to cPanel through https://emerson.build/dashboard.
  • Click My Apps under Applications.
  • Click the Edit button next to the desired application’s name (this looks like a blue wrench).
  • Scroll down to find the Administrator Username and Password fields. Note: you may not be able to see the current Administrator password on this screen, but you should be able to set a new one.

If these steps don’t work or the application wasn’t installed via the Installatron, most applications should have some kind of password reset link on the login page.

Other Types of Accounts

In addition to the three account types outlined above, there are a few other kinds of accounts you may have as part of Emerson.build:

  • FTP/SFTP: You receive credentials for this in the welcome email when you first sign up for Emerson.build. You can also set up additional FTP accounts using the cPanel.
  • Application User Accounts: In addition to the Administrator Account that you set up when installing an application, most applications will also let you set up additional user accounts. You can use this option to allow others to collaborate with you in the application. For example, you can add other editors to a WordPress blog.

What Can You Do with Your Emerson.build Account? #

Your ability to do things on Emerson.build is dictated to a large degree only by the limits of your imagination. That said, there are some technical requirements and limitations that you should be aware of and might want to review.

To spark your imagination, here are some ideas that might help you get started:

Install a Web Application in Your Space

Emerson.build makes it very simple to install certain Web applications in your Web space. Web applications are just special software that run on a Web server. Usually they allow you to build and manage a website. The kind of site you can build depends upon the type of application you install. Here are some examples of applications that you can easily install within the Emerson.build web hosting interface:

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WordPress: WordPress is a blogging application. While it allows you to quickly and easily set up a blog, it also comes with a set of features that really make it possible to set up any kind of basic Web site without much difficulty. We have resources available that are focused on installing and using WordPress.

 

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Omeka: Omeka is an open-source web application that can be used to create and display online digital collections. We have information available to help you install and use Omeka.

 

These are just a FEW of the open-source applications that are available to you in your Emerson.build web space; you can find a list of all of the applications you can install automatically here.

Organize Your Site with Subdomains and Folders

Through this project, you’ve received a domain name that you can actually subdivide and organize any way you like. There are two main approaches to organizing your domain space and the applications you install: creating subdomains or creating subdirectories (which can also be called simply folders). Each approach allows you to point viewers to the pages and applications you’ve set up, but the links your viewers will access look different depending on which approach you’re using.

Here’s an example of one way you might choose to organize your site (using the subdomain vs. the subdirectory approach):

 To Install… Subdomain Approach Subdirectory Approach
… WordPress as your “main site” yourdomain.com (“root”) yourdomain.com (“root”)
… a second WordPress instance for a course you’re taking course1.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com/course1
… Koken for a public photo gallery of your photos photos.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com/photos
… MediaWiki for a club you belong to that wants to collaboratively edit its bylaws docs.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com/docs
… OwnCloud so you can access your files on your laptop and at work files.yourdomain.com yourdomain.com/files

This is just one way to organize your site and then use different sections to do different things. There is no “one size fits all” solution to this challenge, and what you do should be driven by what makes sense to you. To start, you may just want to install one thing at the “root” of your domain, and then let the rest evolve as you get to know more about what’s possible.

To learn more about subdomains, subdirectories, and organizing your site, please visit the “What is a Subdomain?” section of this documentation.

Map Your Domain (or a Subdomain)

If you already have a digital presence that you’d like to pull into your emerson.build space, domain mapping is an option you may wish to explore. This allows you to assign your domain (or a subdomain) to another service. Some services that work with domain mapping are:

When you map a domain, users who visit your URL will automatically see your space on one of these services. It’s a great way to incorporate your activity elsewhere into your domain, and it might be a good first-step if you’ve already established a presence somewhere else and just want to point your new domain to that space.

What Exactly is a Web Application? #

In the most general terms, a Web application is a piece of software that runs on a Web server. A Web server is a just a specialized computer designed to host Web pages.

Most Web applications are comprised of two components: files and a database. When you install a Web application, you will need to make sure all of the files are copied over into the appropriate location AND that a database (and database user) has been set up to connect to those files. Often, you will have to do some configuration to make sure the application knows how to access the database.

The system we use for Emerson.build uses a special script installer called Installatron (in cPanel) that allows you to automatically install dozens of open source applications. When you use Installatron, you don’t need to worry about moving files, creating databases, or doing the initial configuration. It’s all taken care of for you. You can find out more about Installatron here.

In order to run on the Emerson.build server, Web applications must be able to run on a LAMP server, which is the particular kind of Web server that we use. Occasionally, a Web application may require additional components or modules that need to be installed on the server.

Social Media #

As you begin to build out your digital presence you’ll probably start to think about social media in some form. In fact it’s likely that you already have at least one, if not more, social media accounts (Facebook being the most popular to date). Everyone uses social media in different ways, and although it’s often interesting to see people break the boundaries of the “social norms” of a specific online community, this article will focus more on the accepted use cases for specific social networks and how they can help you build your digital presence. This is by no means a comprehensive “How To” of Twitter or Facebook, but a good starting guide to think about where you best fit in to these online communities.

Facebook

The majority of folks that will read this likely have a Facebook account. With over 1 billion active users it’s by far one of the more popular social networks. Many treat Facebook as a semi-personal space, one reserved for family and friends to share photos and highlights of what’s happening in their lives. Facebook also supports “Groups” for sharing amongst a smaller set of individuals regularly, and “Pages” which are less personal and more public-facing profiles meant for organizations and businesses. There are plenty of applications that make it easy to publish a link to the work you do on your blog and your participation in other networks back into your Facebook profile. In general it’s a good practice and can often lead to interesting conversations with different groups of folks. This practice of publishing elsewhere and then feeding into Facebook is desired over the alternative, using Facebook for all content and then pushing it out to other communities. The main reason for this is that privacy concerns over how different people can view content on Facebook have changed often enough to leave users concerned. There’s also never any certainty of sustainability with any of these social networks (remember MySpace or Friendster?) no matter how popular, so publishing in your own space and then pushing out to others makes a lot of sense. The key takeaway is that Facebook is a great personal network and can also be the starting point for some of these larger professional discussions should you decide to use it that way.

Twitter

While no longer the new kid on the block, Twitter has only relatively recently started to gain momentum. It doesn’t have nearly the same user base as Facebook (though there are about 500 million accounts to date) and the way people use it is very different. Twitter has focused on the short status message from the start, before Facebook even integrated the idea into their platform. Users are limited to 140 characters. It’s a conversational platform for interacting with people. It’s used heavily at conferences and many choose this as a social network for really networking with peers and others in their community as well as people they might not ever meet in real life. You can follow as many people as you want and it’s a great way of having a stream of information about “what’s happening” with people and groups you’re interested in. One powerful development of Twitter is that celebrities have begun to embrace it as a way to speak directly to their fans without having the message interpreted through other media and journalism with a slant. The ability to search various topics or hashtags (keywords) and see a running stream of what people are saying about that topic is also a very powerful way of gauging reaction to ideas and events. It’s a great idea to experiment with a Twitter account by signing up, adding a profile picture and information about yourself, following a group of people, and interacting with it daily. While the gratification may not be immediate, it’s one of those social networks where the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional resumé of social networks. It mixes the ability to keep an updated resume of where you work and what your accomplishments are with a social aspect of having people recommend you and comment on your work. Most users find LinkedIn helpful not as a day-to-day network they use, but rather when they’re searching for a new job and want to find people they know that might have connections. The old saying “It’s who you know” when finding a job or making a connection is particularly relevant here where those connections can be exposed to you (You know this person who works for the company of one of Bill Gate’s sons, and the VP went to high school with you).

Summary

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, talking about social media is an ever-changing and moving target and this article can never be truly comprehensive. The goal of emerson.build is to have you thinking more critically about where you put your content, not that you don’t participate in these networks which still have a lot of value, but rather that you own the work you create. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others all have different audiences and the more places you push your content to, the more opportunities for discussion and feedback you’ll receive. The ability to network with an increased amount of people that isn’t reliant on face-to-face meetings is a powerful change in how we interact on the web and the value of it. As you begin to explore social media the best recommendation would be to choose a space you want to explore and really dive in. Follow as many people as possible, talk to them, respond to their work, and you’re more likely to get responses in return that start to build that sense of community for you.

What Are the Technical Requirements/Limitations of Emerson.build? #

Emerson.build uses a kind of Web server knowns as a LAMP server. “LAMP” is an acronym for the technology stack that is installed on the server:

  • Linux: This is the open-source operating system that is used on the server.
  • Apache: This is the Web server software that the server uses.
  • MySQL: This is the database software that the server uses.
  • Php/Perl/Python: These are the three programming languages that the server can interpret.

Generally, if you are using applications available to install by default through the Emerson.build server, you shouldn’t need to worry about these technical details. All of the software that is available for installation (in cPanel) meets the technical requirements.

If you’re interested in finding/installing another application (that isn’t available through our automatic installer tool), then you’ll have to be sure that the server can support it. To start with, you’ll want to be sure that the Web application can run on a LAMP server. Check the technical requirements for the application to determine this. You’ll also need to do some research about whether there are any additional services or modules required on the server. Some software may require components that aren’t included in the default installation of the LAMP stack. In that case, contact us with details about what you need, and we’ll see what we can do.

cPanel Dashboard #

The cPanel, or control panel, is your landing page for emerson.build domains that lets you easily access and manage the files and applications of your account. Log into your cPanel through emerson.build – here you can see your active domains and personal account information at a glance.

Applications

Emerson has four featured applications listed, but there are many, many more that can be utilized. Just click on “View More,” in order to see what possibilities lie in wait for your domain! For more information about web applications, click here.

cPanel section for Application installations

Domains

The Domains section of cPanel allows you to manage your addon domains, subdomains, aliases, and redirected domains. Additionally, you can use the Simple Zone Editor and Advanced Zone Editor to map different parts of your domain on different services.

cPanel section for Domain management tools

    • Addon Domains act as second website with its own unique content. Please note, you are required to register the new domain name before you can host it. Reclaim offers a service for this, although there are other domain registration companies if you’d prefer to look elsewhere.
    • Subdomains act as a second website with its own unique content without having to register a new domain name. In general, you use your existing domain name and change the www to another relavant term. For example, your Emerson.build domain is a subdomain of emerson.build.
    • Redirects map old domains to your existing domain.
    • Aliases allows you to create additional domain names to be mapped to the current domain.
    • Simple Zone Editor, Advanced Zone Editor, and Zone Editor are all related to the Domain Name System (DNS) and allow you to see what’s happening behind the scenes when someone visits your website. For more information, see the “What is DNS?” section of this documentation.

Files

Within files, you are able to manage and organize all the files on your domain. To truly see the capabilities of these tools – just click and explore!

cPanel section for File management tools

    • File Manager allows you to manage all files connected to your account, including renaming, uploading, and deleting them. You can also get to your file manager using the the Quick Links section at the top left of your cPanel.
    • Images lets your manage images that have been previously saved to your account.
    • Directory Privacy allows you to set a password to protect certain directories of your account.
    • Disk Usage helps you monitor your account’s available space.
    • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a fast and convenient way to transfer large files online. More information can be found in the “Setting up FTP” section of this documentation.
    • Of the three backup apps, we recommend R1Soft Restore Backups. You can read more about it under the “Automated Offsite Backups” section of Reclaim’s blog post “Backups Done Right”. You can also read through the “Managing Backups” section of this documentation.

Databases

The Databases section allows you to create MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and users, and to modify and access to them. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. SQL is an international standard in querying and retrieving information from databases. PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system.

cPanel section for Database management tools

    • phpMyAdmin: manages a single database as well as a whole MySQL server.
    • MySQL Database & MySQL Database Wizard: allows you to store and manage large amounts of information over the web; these are essential to running web-based applications, for example: bulletin boards, content management systems, and online shopping carts. The Wizard guides you through the setup of a MySQL database and user privileges.
    • Remote MySQL: You can use this to add a specific domain name so visitors can connect to your MySQL databases.

Metrics

cPanel offers a number of different monitoring and statistic tools to help you administer your hosting account. Some of the more important and useful functions are explained in more depth below.

cPanel section for Metric tools

    • Visitors: Use this to see your 1,000 most recent visitors for each of your domains.
    • Errors: This displays the last 300 errors on your site; helpful if looking for missing files or broken links.
    • Bandwidth: Bandwidth represents the amount of information that your server transfers and receives. Use this function to view the bandwidth usage for your site; see total usage, or by month. Includes web and mail usage.
    • Raw Access: This is another stats function that allows you to see who has visited your website without graphics. A downloadable zip file of your site’s activity is availble.
    • Awstats: Allows you to see your website visitors with visual aides.
    • CPU and Concurrent Connection Usage: Lets you visualize the CPU and RAM usage of your site.

Security

cPanel has an entire security section devoted to protecting different parts of customer web sites from the unauthorized access of their viewers. The cPanel Security section includes SSH Access, IP Blocker, SSL/TLS, Hotlink Protection, Leech Protection and ModSecurity.

cPanel section for Security tools

    • SSH Access: Allows secure file transfers and remote logins online. Watch a video on how to manage SSH Keys on Reclaim Hosting.
    • IP Blocker: This function allows you to block a range of IP addresses to prevent them from accessing your website. This is done by simply searching a qualified domain name.
    • SSL/TLS: The SSL/TLS Manager will allow you to generate SSL certificates, certificate signing requests, and private keys. These are all parts of using SSL to secure your website. Information is sent encrypted instead of in plain text.
    • Hotlink Protection: Prevents other websites from directly linking to files on your website.
    • Leech Protection: Prevents your users from giving out or publicly posting their passwords to a restricted area of your site
    • ModSecurity: Protects your website from various attacks using a web application firewall, provides additional tools to monitor your Apache web server.
    • SSL/TLS Status: Allows you to view, upgrade, or renew your Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates.

Software

The Software section of cPanel is located towards the bottom of your cPanel dashboard. The functions that get used most often in this category are Optimize Website and the Installatron Applications InstallercPanel section for Software

    • Optimize Website: This function allows you to optimize the performance of your website by tweaking the way Apache handles requests
    • Installatron Applications Installer: Another route to the “View More” in Web Applications, which lists all available features that can be installed on your domain.

Advanced

The Advanced Section is located at near the very end of your cPanel dashboard. We recommend using this area only if you are familiar and comfortable with utilizing these features.

cPanel section for Advanced tools

    • Track DNS: this allows you to find out information about any domain; trace the route from the server to your computer, for example. This can be helpful to make sure your DNS is set up properly.
    • Indexes: This manager customizes the way a directory can be seen (or not seen) online.
    • Error Pages: In two simple steps, you can select the domain you wish to work with, and then create/edit error pages for that site that viewers will see.
    • Virus Scanner: is essentially what it sounds like; start a new virus scan in Mail, Entire Home Directory, Public Web Space or Public FTP space.

Preferences

The Preferences area allows you to change your language, change the style of the interface, and your contact information. While we recommend that you leave your primary contact email as your emerson.edu address, you are more than welcome to add a second! Further, within Contact Information, you can update your notification preferences.

cPanel section for Preferences

Installing Applications with Installatron #

Installatron is a script installer that allows you to quickly and easily install Web applications to on the Web space. By default, when you use Installatron, the application you add will be automatically upgraded whenever a new version is available (and a backup will be kept, just in case).

Installing Applications Using Installatron

  • To get started you’ll need to login to your control panel by going to https://emerson.build/dashboard.
  • Here you’ll login with your Emerson email and password.

Emerson.build cPanel log-in screen.

  • Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. You will need to scroll down until you see a section of the Control Panel labeled “Web Applications.” Within this section you will see a link to the Installatron which you should click.​ Or, you can type “installatron” (without quotes) into the search bar.  When you press enter you will automatically be redirected to the Installatron page.

Installatron page.

  • When Installatron opens, you will see a list of any applications you’ve already installed. To install something new, click on the Applications Browser button (labeled with a large star).

Installatron's application browser.

  • A listing of all of the applications you can install be default in Installatron will appear. Browse to the one you want to install, and click the icon.
  • After clicking the icon, a page will appear with information about the application, links to resources, and a link to install it.

Installatron application page.

  • Click “Install this application” when you are ready.
  • A page will appear with a number of settings you can choose/change. The image below shows these settings; here is a rundown of them:

Installation settings.

  • Location: You’ll need to choose where to install your new application. You can install it at the root of your domain or in a subdomain (which you need to set up first). In addition, you can place your application in a folder (in either your root domain or a subdomain)
  • Version Information: You can choose a version of the application. Generally, we recommend choosing the default version. It is likely to be the most recent, stable release.
  • Updates & Database Management: By default, the system is set up to automatically upgrade (and create backups upon upgrading) all applications. In addition, by default, the database will be set up for you automatically. We recommend NOT changing these options.
  • Username/Password: An username/password will be automatically generated for you. You can choose to change this, if you like.
  • Website Title: Pick a title for the site that will be created when you install your application. You should change this from the default title!
    After installation, you’ll be taken back to the main Installatron page, with details about the application you just installed. At anytime you can come back here to review the application details, back it up manually, or uninstall it.

To get to your new site, you can click the “website” link. What’s more, with certain applications you can use this space to login to the admin area.

In addition, you’ll have received an email with your username/password and a link to your new site.

Applications Available in Installatron #

Installatron, the script installer that is part of the Emerson.build cPanel, allows you to easily install Web applications to your Web space. Below is a list of all of the applications currently available to you through Installatron:

Community Building

  • Vanila Forums
  • MediaWiki
  • FluxBB
  • MyBB
  • phpBB
  • Simple Machines
  • XMB Forum
  • GBook
  • Lazarus Guestbook
  • DokuWiki
  • PmWiki
  • WikkaWiki

Content Management

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Known
  • Omeka
  • Textpattern
  • CMS Made Simple
  • Composr CMS
  • concrete5
  • phpMyFAQ
  • Code Igniter
  • Laravel
  • MODx
  • Nette
  • Smarty
  • Symfony
  • Zend Framework
  • e107
  • Joomla
  • Mahara
  • Mambo
  • PHP-Fusion
  • PHP-Nuke
  • Subrion
  • Tiki Wiki CMS Groupware
  • Xoops
  • Zikula

Photos and Files

  • Koken
  • Codiad
  • GateQuest
  • OpenDocMan
  • ownCloud
  • Power File Manager
  • Pydio
  • Coppermine

Surveys and Statistics

  • Piwik
  • Seo Panel

Miscellaneous

  • Tiny Tiny RSS
  • Search Engine Project

Accessing Your Files through the File Manager #

Your Emerson.build cPanel includes a File Manager that allows you to interact directly with the files stored in your webhosting account. This can be useful if you want to upload software that cannot be automatically installed via the Web Applications section of your cPanel, if you need to change the name or permissions of a file or group or files, or if you want to edit a plain text file. To access your files via the File Manager, use these steps:

Login to Emerson.build with your Emerson username and password.

Emerson.build cPanel log-in screen.

Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. The easiest way to navigate the panel is using the search feature in the top right panel. Click the Search box and type “File Manager” (without the quotes). When you press enter, you will be automatically redirected to the File Manager.  You can also find its icon under Files.

Searching for the File Manager in cPanel.

On the left side of the “File Manager” window, you’ll see a navigation menu containing the file structure of your webhosting account. More information about the contents of these files and folders can be found in the “File Structures and the File Manager” documentation in this knowledge base.

In the navigation menu, choose the public_html option. This will take you directly into the folder that contains the files associated with your website(s). You’ll notice your current location (the public_html folder) is bolded and highlighted in this menu. Click the [+] (expand) icon next to a folder to see what subfolders it contains, or click on the name of the folder to view all of its contents in the file browser on the right side of the page. You can also navigate through the folders in your account by double-clicking on them in the file browser on the right side of the “File Manager” page.

File Manager with the public_html folder open.

To select an item, click once on its icon in the file browser. You can also use the “Select All” button above the file browser, or your computer’s keyboard shortcuts (Shift, Command, Control, etc), to select multiple items from this list.

Files selected in File Manager.

Depending on what you have selected, different options will be available to you in the action menu across the top of the “File Manager” page. If you have selected a folder, for example, you can “Rename” it or “Change Permissions” on it, but cannot edit it using the Code Editor or HTML Editor.

If you know exactly what location you want to skip to within your webhosting account, you can type it into the box directly above the navigation menu and click Go.

Internal searching in File Manager.

Alternatively, if you know the exact name of the file or folder you are looking for, but not its location, you can use the Search box to find it.

Search for an exact file name in File Manager.

File Structures and the File Manager #

Web hosting is, at its core, files and folders on a computer that is connected to the internet and setup to distribute them. How that computer (typically a server) is setup to do that is covered more in LAMP Environments but this article will explain the idea of the file structure and how it relates to what you view on your domain.

When you signed up for your domain a web hosting account was created. Although you typically will interact mostly with the web interface to create subdomains, install applications, and other common tasks, you might occasionally also need to work directly with the files in your account. The File Manager in your cPanel is one way to see these files. You can also create an FTP account in cPanel and use an FTP program to interact with these files (FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it’s a way of using a desktop client to transfer files to and from your Web server space).

Let’s take a look at the File Manager built into your cPanel to get a better understanding of the file structure that makes up your website(s).

  • Login to cPanel with your Emerson username and password.

Emerson.build cPanel log-in screen.

  • On the homepage of your control panel you’ll have all the various tools listed. You can easily find the File Manager by using the search tool in the upper righthand corner and typing File Manager. You can also find its icon under Files.

Searching for the File Manager in cPanel.

  • You are now sent to the File Manager and can navigate the folder structure there.

You’ll notice when the File Manager opens up that this looks very much like a folder on your computer. There are a few folders in it as well as files, and you can navigate down into those folders and see what’s inside of them. At the top level of the File Manager you also have the option of interacting with files and folders you select by moving them around or removing them. There is a larger article all about how to use the file manager at Accessing Your Files through the File Manager so we won’t talk much about how the interface works, rather we’ll cover what those folders and files actually mean and how they relate to what someone sees when they visit your website.

By default you have a variety of folders at the root of your web space (the first screen you see when you open up the file manager). Some of them are created automatically to store information about the panel and setup of certain sites. These folders are things like access-logs, etc, ssl, and tmp. You can safely ignore most of those folders because they don’t correspond to actual websites. Let’s look at which folders do and how it all works.

Your main domain, mydomain.com, corresponds with a folder called “public_html.” Whatever files and folders are inside of this folder are available at that domain. If you installed WordPress here you’ll likely see a lot of WordPress-related files within it (which were probably helpfully put there by the automated installer). Let’s say we uploaded an image called mypicture.jpg into the public_html folder. That image would now be available at mydomain.com/mypicture.jpg. The slash after your domain implies “this file is inside this folder”. But what if we had a folder inside the public_html folder? How does that appear? This is typically called a subfolder so let’s put a folder in public_html called “images” and put our image, mypicture.jpg, inside of that folder. What would you type in a browser to get to that file now? The location would be mydomain.com/images/mypicture.jpg. So subfolders are also indicated by a forward slash after a domain.

What about subdomains? You can have completely separate sites called subdomains that appear as nameofsubdomain.mydomain.com. But where are they in the file structure? When you created your subdomain the control panel asked you to give the folder a name. If I had a subdomain called photos.mydomain.com for example, I might want to name the folder “photos” (by default your control panel will call the folder by the name of the subdomain). Folders for subdomains are located inside the public_html folder. So when you go to the File Manager and navigate to public_html you’ll see folders listed for all of your subdomains and once you navigate inside one of those folders you’ll see files and folders specifically for that subdomain that appear on the web at that subdomain’s address.

The File Manager in your control panel is great to view these files and folders, but it can be limiting if you want to upload an entire folder of information to your website. If you find yourself wanting to do more with the files and folders on your web space, you can download a free FTP program like Filezilla for PC or Cyberduck for Mac and connect to your website using the FTP credentials provided in the welcome email you receive when you first register your domain. Keep this welcome email in a safe place! An FTP program will allow you to upload and download an unlimited number of files and folders quickly.

Creating an Email Address #

Creating an email address in the control panel creates a mailbox on the server for mail to be delivered to. In some cases this might be desired if you want to maintain full control of the email you receive, however in many cases users may wish to simply create an Email Forwarder that sets up a custom email address and sends all mail sent to it on to the address of your choice. This article will show you how to setup both methods.

  • On the homepage of the control panel you will see a section titled Email that contains several tools for setting up email addresses. To get started, go to the Email Accounts page.

Create an email address in cPanel.

This screen will allow us to setup an email address that uses a mailbox stored on the server. You will be able to access mail sent to this email address either through a webmail client or a desktop/mobile client directly. Enter the desired email address as well as a password to associate with that email address. You can choose to set a quota for how large of a mailbox you need, or set this to unlimited (keep in mind your quota will still be dictated by the limits of the hosting account). Once you’re done click Create Account.

Your email address is created and it’s ready to be used. Scroll down the page to see your newly created account listed under Email Accounts.  You have the choice of accessing your new email address via the webmail options built into your control panel, or setting up a mail client directly from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. These options appear as links under Actions to the right of where your email address is listed. The More button allows you to suspend your address, access webmail, configure calendars and contacts, and manage disk usage.

You can work with your new email address by using the links next to it under "Email Accounts."

If you already have an email address you want to use, such as a Gmail or Hotmail account, you may wish to create an Email Forwarder instead of a mailbox. Setting up a forwarder is very simple. Start by clicking on Forwarders from the Mail section of your control panel homepage.

The Forwarders page in cPanel.

The first screen will show you any existing forwarders that you have created. To setup a new forwarding account, click Add Forwarder.

Add a New Forwarder page in cPanel.

To create a new forwarding account, simply type in the desired email address as well as the email address you’d like all mail to be forwarded to. When you are done click Add Forwarder.

You have now successfully created an Email Forwarder and all email sent to your custom email address will be forwarded on to the address you entered.

Setting Up FTP #

There are a number of scenarios which might necessitate placing files directly onto your server space rather than going through an application like WordPress or Omeka. For example:

  • You’re working with an application that allows you to install plugins/extensions, but the files need to be manually moved to the server in order to add them. (Note: This is NOT required with WordPress which allows you to install plugins through your WP Dashboard while in your browser.)
  • You’ve developed a custom site with pages, styling, and/or scripts using a web design or coding program. Those files you created need to live and run on the server
  • You’re installing an application that isn’t part of the applications in Installatron.

One way to upload files is by using the File Manager that is part of cPanel. However, sometimes you’ll find it necessary or simply easier to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to move files to the server. This can be particularly useful if you’re working with a website where more users than just the owner will be working with the file structure. Only the owner has access to the File Manager in the site’s cPanel, so the owner would need to grant separate file management access to any other users.

What exactly is FTP?

File Transfer Protocol is a method that allows you to remotely move files to a web server from another location – usually your local/personal computer. Using a pre-defined FTP account (which gives you a username and password to connect with), you can configure your FTP client (a program you run on your computer that allows you to transfer files via FTP) of choice.

There are lots of FTP clients that you can use; some are free and some are not. A couple of free, cross-platform options are:

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll show you how to set up FTP in FileZilla, but you should be able to generalize these instructions to use in any FTP client.

Getting the required information for your FTP client

Whether you’re connecting to your own server space or setting up an FTP account for someone else to use to connect to your space, you’ll need the same sorts of information to configure an FTP client (username, password, hostname).

Using an existing and/or special FTP account

When you sign up for Emerson.build, you receive a welcome email containing all of the connection information for a special FTP account. This account’s username corresponds to your cPanel username and it has full privileges to access any space on your web server. Do not share this account’s credentials with anyone else.  You should use SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) while connecting with this account in your FTP client. If you can no longer find this email, please contact the Help Desk to have the email re-sent.

For other FTP accounts, you can find the connection information by following the instructions below:

  1. Login to your Emerson.build cPanel.
  2. Click “FTP Accounts” under the “Files” section.
  3. Scroll to the “FTP Accounts” heading.
  4. Click “Configure FTP Client” to get the username and server information for the account.
    • If you need to set a new password, you can do so on this screen.
    • Alternatively, if an FTP account is no longer needed, you have the option to delete it.
Creating a new FTP account
  1. Login to your Emerson.build cPanel.
  2. Click “FTP Accounts” under the “Files” section.
  3. Under the “Add FTP Account” heading, enter the following:
    • The new account’s username in the “Log In” box.
    • A password for the account in both Password fields or click the “Password Generator” button to have one generated for you. The “Strength” line will indicate how secure the password you’ve entered is. Note: you will need to save this password somewhere secure. If you lose the password in the future, you will need to set a new one from this page.
    • By default, the new FTP account will be limited to a directory with the same name as the account you’re creating. You can change this to a different directory, if you want to grant this account access to a different location.
    • You can enter a quota limit for this account or leave it as the default (unlimited). You can change this at any time after the account’s been created.
  4. Click “Create FTP Account” when you’re done.
  5. You’ll see the new account appear in the list under the “FTP Accounts” heading.
  6. Click the “Configure FTP Client” link to get the username and server information for the account, if you don’t already have it written down. If you’re setting this account up to provide access to someone else, you will need to send them the username, password, and server information.

Configure FTP in Your FTP Client

Below are links to tutorials for setting up both FileZilla and CyberDuck to connect to your FTP account. If you’re using a different client, please check that client’s documentation site.

Applications #

A Web application is a piece of software that runs on a Web server. A Web server is a specialized computer designed to host Web pages. See the cPanel section of the documentation for a complete list of applications that are available through the cPanel’s Installatron.

Most of these applications have thorough online documentation available. In this section, we’ve highlighted a couple of popular options and Emerson.build specific instructions.

Web applications are comprised of two components: files and a database. Usually when you install a Web application, you need to make sure all of the files are copied over into the appropriate location and that a database (and database user) has been set up to connect to those files. However, Emerson.build’s Installatron allows you to automatically install dozens of open source applications. (i.e. WordPress, Known, etc).

Additional tutorials and guides can be found below:

Installatron allows you to explore a Live Demo and a Showcase for (most) applications. It also gives you a brief overview, related apps, requirements, and links to guides.

For more information on Web Applications, Web Development, HTML, CSS, and so forth…


Also see the full Khan Academy Intro to HTML/CSS: Making Webpages!

WordPress #

WordPress is an open source content management system (CMS). It was originally released as a simple blogging platform in 2003–as a fork of b2/cafelog, for those interested in the code origin–and has grown into one of the most-used CMS on the web. As of this writing, “WordPress is used by 28.7% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 59.5%.” (Data provided by W3Techs “Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Management Systems for Websites, September 2017”.)

Installing WordPress

Setting up a WordPress install on your own domain can be done by following these steps:

  1. Access your cPanel (https://emerson.build/dashboard) by logging in with your Emerson username and password.
  2. Under “Applications“, click “WordPress“.
  3. You will be taken to a page with more information about the WordPress software. To begin the install click “+ Install this Application” to the right of the application title.
    Installatron view of WordPress application and install button
  4. On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install:
    • Under “Location”, specify where to install WordPress. * For more information about these options, visit the “Subdomains vs. Subdirectories” section of this documentation.
      • To have WordPress be what users see when they go to “yourdomain.emerson.build”, leave that as your selection under “Domain” and leave the “Directory” field blank.
      • If you’ve previously created a subdomain to use for WordPress, you can select it from the “Domain” dropdown and leave “Directory” blank.
      • You can also install WordPress in a subdirectory of your site by entering a folder name in the “Directory” field.
    • Under “Version”, we recommend to leave most of the default options, with the exception of “Automatic Update Backup”. We recommend changing this to “Do not create a backup.” You can read more about this recommendation and alternative options in the “Managing Backups” section of this documentation.
    • Under “Settings”, you will be asked to set an administrator username and password. Randomized defaults will already be entered for you, but you have the option to change these. These credentials will be different from your Emerson account, but by using your Emerson account to access your cPanel dashboard, you shouldn’t need to login separately to your WordPress blog (see “Understanding Emerson.build’s Accounts & Passwords” for information on how to recover this account info in the future). The other options under “Settings” allow you to change your site’s Title and Tagline as well as the administrator email address.
  5. When you’re happy with the settings you’ve chosen, click “+ Install” at the bottom of the page. The installer will take just a few moments to install WordPress and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new WordPress site as well as a link to the backend, administrative dashboard for your WordPress site (this will end with /wp-admin/).
    "My Applications" in the Installatron link for access to the WordPress dashboard without logging in.

Congratulations, you’ve now installed WordPress! Now you can start customizing it with themes, plugins, and more.

Resources for configuring and using WordPress

Visit your WordPress site’s Dashboard by clicking the /wp-admin/ link in your “My Applications” list (From the cPanel: Applications > My Apps). This is where you will configure your WordPress site’s settings and add content. There is extensive documentation on using WordPress online. We’ll be linking to topics of interest in the WordPress.org documentation below.

First Steps with WordPress

Glossary of terms (includes advanced topics)

Settings
Appearance and Themes
Plugins
Publishing Content

The primary activity that you’re likely to be doing on your WordPress site is publishing content. The content could be text you write, pictures you take, videos or audios (which may be hosted on another site), or other media that you’ve found elsewhere on the web.

Special note: Posts vs Pages

Out of the box, WordPress provides two primary content types for you two work with: posts and pages. If you read blogs or have ever written for a blog before, the concept of a post is probably a bit familiar. Posts often are content that appear on your blog in some kind of scheduled way. They usually are presented on your site in reverse-chronological order. Posts might be what you use to share your regular thoughts, reflections, or ideas about a topic. Posts make up a kind of “river” of content that you’re producing as part of your blogging activity.

Pages usually correspond to our more traditional concept of what makes up a Web site. Pages are presented outside of the “river” of content that are posts. They are more likely to stand alone and be organized according to a traditional hierarchy. Pages might be content that is less frequently updated or changed.

If you were using WordPress to build a business Web site with a lot of information content, you would probably use Pages. If you added a feature to that site where you started to advertise special events or news, you would probably use Posts.

A few other things to know about Pages vs Posts:
  • If you want your content to be accessible to your users via RSS/syndication, you’ll need to use Posts. By default, Pages do not appear in a site’s RSS feed.
  • Categories and Tags (which are used in WordPress to help you organize your content) are ONLY available on Posts. Page organization is done through customizing your site’s menus.
  • Okay this get’s a little tricky: WordPress, by default, also creates “Category Pages” and “Tag Pages” that display all the Posts in a category or tag. These are NOT related to the regular Page type.

Omeka #

Installing Omeka

Omeka is an open-source web application that can be used to create and display online digital collections. Developed by programmers at George Mason University, Omeka was designed to be user-friendly, both during installation and setup and during daily usage. To install Omeka, follow these steps:

  1. Log-in to your cPanel (https://emerson.build/dashboard) using your Emerson.build username and password.
  2. Navigate to the Web Applications section of the cPanel and find Featured Applications. Then select Omeka. You can also search for Omeka in the Search box at the top of the cPanel.
  3. This page gives you more information about Omeka. To begin the installation, click Install this application in the upper-righthand corner. 

    Click the "Install this application" button at top right of the Omeka cPanel page.

  4. The next page asks for some information about this installation. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install it. If you want to install Omeka on your main domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you’ve created a subdomain, you can select it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing Omeka in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. See the Subdomains vs. Subdirectories page for more information.
  5. Under “Automatic Update Backup,” select “Do not create a backup.” See Managing Backups for more information about how to create backups. Under “Settings,” chose your administrator username and password. Under “Advanced,” leave Automatically manage advanced settings for me checked and the installer will create a database for you (recommended). If you’ve already created a database for this website, you can choose Let me manage these settings and enter the details. Click Install to continue.

    Enter your installation location and settings on the Installatron page.

  6. The installer will take just a few moments to install Omeka and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete, you will see a link to your new Omeka site as well as a link to the backend administrative section for your Omeka site. Click the website link to configure your new Omeka installation. 
  7. When you visit your new Omeka installation for the first time, you will be taken to the site configuration page. Enter a UsernamePassword, and Email for the administrative superuser (i.e. yourself).
  8. Enter an Administrator Email and a Site Title. The Administrator email is the address that messages from the system (e.g. forgot password email reminder) will appear to come from. You might want to create a custom email address using these instructions, for example webmaster@yourdomain.com or omeka-admin@yourdomain.com, to use for this purpose. The Site Title will appear at the top of your visitors’ browser windows.

    Your Omeka site's Settings page.

  9. Congratulations! Omeka is now installed. Use the buttons to proceed to your Public Site (you can also click your site’s title at top-left), or go to the Dashboard to begin adding content.

     

Installing Plugins

There are a variety of plugins that enable additional functionality in Omeka, but in order to easily add them you will first need to install Escher, a plugin installer. See all plugins available for Omeka and their descriptions.

1. Find the Escher plugin (on the page linked above) and click the red button on the right to download the Escher zip file.

Click the red Download button to the right of the Escher listing on the Omeka plugins page.

2. Next, open up your cPanel Dashboard and click on the File Manager. You can find the File Manager under ‘Files’ or by typing “File Manager” in the upper right search bar.

Searching for the File Manager in cPanel.

3. Go to the public_html > plugins folder by clicking on the folder icons in the file menu, or by typing “public_html/plugins” into the navigation bar at the top and clicking ‘Go’. NOTE: If you installed Omeka in a subdirectory, you’ll need to add the subdomain to the above path. For example, if you installed Omeka in the “Omeka” subdirectory, the path to the plugins folder will be public_html > omeka > plugins.

Use the File Manager to open the plugins folder.

4. Next, you will need to upload the Escher zip file you downloaded into the plugins folder. Select the Upload option in the top menu to open up a new tab where you can upload the zip file. When the upload is complete, click the ‘Go back to home/yourdomain/public_html/plugins’ link at the bottom of the page to return to the File Manager. You will see that the Escher zip file has appeared in the plugins folder.

5. Make sure the Escher zip file is selected (it should be highlighted in blue), then click Extract from the menu at the top of the page. A small window will open up to confirm where the file will be extracted to. If you were in the plugins folder, it should say public_html/plugins. If not, type that path into the box. Then click Extract File(s).

In the File Manager, click the Zip file to highlight it, then click Extract.

6. Another pop-up window will outline the contents of the file. Just hit the Close button to complete the installation.

Click "Close" on the pop-up window after your zip file finishes extracting.

 7. The Escher plugin should now be available on the Plugins page, accessible by clicking “Plugins” in the black horizontal navigation bar at top-right of your Omeka dashboard. Find it and click the green “Install” button to its right.

Go to Plugins from your Omeka dashboard's top nav bar, find Escher, then click the Install button to its right.

8. Escher will appear in the left hand sidebar of the dashboard (if not, try refreshing the page). Click on it, and you’re ready to use Escher to install other plugins.

After installation, the Escher tool appears at the bottom of the dashboard's lefthand menu.

9. Next, select the plugin or theme you’d like to install from the dropdown menu and click the Upload button. The item will be installed and appear in the plugins or themes page, which you can access from the black horizontal navigation bar at top-right of your Omeka dashboard. You will then need to turn on the installed plugin or theme by clicking the Activate button next to its listing.

Use the Escher tool to automatically install plugins and themes.

Using Omeka

You can learn how to use this application in the official Omeka Support Documentation. This support guide will help you get started and begin building your Omeka site.

Quota Management #

If you can’t add more content to your Emerson.build site due to running out of space, please submit a ticket through the Help Desk system to request a quota increase.

Additionaly, please follow the instructions below on Managing Backups to have more control over the space used by the apps you install.

Managing Backups #

Any application that you install in Emerson.build using the cPanel/Installatron is set to automatically create a backup of the whole app every time the software updates. The backups expire after 14 days, but they can quickly eat up quota space in that time, especially since some apps (such as WordPress) update automatically. Follow the steps in each section below to take more control over the space that backups use in your account.

1. Turn off the automatic Installatron backup

  • Go to your cPanel
  • Go to Applications > WordPress > My Applications.
  • From there, select the wrench next to your site’s name.
  • Scroll down to Automatic Update Backup and set that to “Do not create a backup”​​

Application Backups screen with an arrow pointing to "Do not create a backup" under "Automatic Update Backup"

2. View restore points in R1Soft Backups App

The R1Soft Restore Backups app can be found in the “Files” section of your cPanel dashboard.

Files section of cPanel with R1Soft Restore Backups circled

This app should already be active so there are no additional steps you need to take to set it up. R1Soft automatically creates off-site backups of your files and databases every day at noon CDT. You can open the app from your cPanel to verify that there are restore points listed. More information about how this app works can be found in this documentation from Reclaim Hosting under the “Automated Offsite Backups” heading: https://reclaimhosting.com/backups-done-right/.

3. Create a manual Installatron backup before major changes

While R1Soft creates daily backups of all of your content, it’s best practice to have a backup of your application from right before you start tinkering, just in case anything goes wrong. That way you won’t lose any content that’s been added or changed since the latest daily backup. As a bonus, backups created through the Installatron are easy to restore with a single click. These manual backups can even be sent to an offsite location like Dropbox to save space.

To create a manual backup:

  • From your cPanel, click “My Apps” in the “Applications” section.
  • Click the checkbox to the far right of the application name (labeled 1 in the screenshot below).
  • Click “Backup” below the bottom of the application list (labeled 2 in the screenshot below).
  • On the next screen, enter a descriptive label and click Backup again. The backup will run with a status bar.​

Installatron "My Applications" screen. The checkbox to the far right of the application's name is labeled "1" and the "Backup" button underneath the app row is labeled "2"

Domain Management #

The Domains section of cPanel allows you to manage your addon domains, subdomains, aliases, and redirected domains. Additionally, you can use the Simple Zone Editor and Advanced Zone Editor to map different parts of your domain on different services.

The following sections explain the concept and utility of domain names and subdomains.

What is DNS? #

Remember back before everyone had computers that fit in their pocket, how companies would ship a book full of phone numbers to your doorstep? We might have known who we were looking for, but we needed to look up phone numbers unless they were your crazy relatives that you learned to memorize. When you get your own domain name, by default it’s nothing more than a shortcut, an address, or (to fit this very imperfect analogy) a phone number. When you type a domain name into the address bar of your browser, someone has to identify it and tell it what to display. That’s where a name server comes in.

A name server is a computer, running as a server, that keeps a record of all the domain names that are associated with it and keeps track of where those domains should go. In the case of Emerson.build, the name server is the same computer that runs the hosting. You can peek behind the hood and see this in action by going to the 'Domains' panel of your cPanel account and clicking on 'Zone Editor', then 'Manage' next to your domain in the table.

DNS stands for Domain Name System and the name server on Emerson.build gives control to it to identify what should be displayed when someone types in your domain. Consider the fact that you might have one or more subdomains in your account. The name server and DNS are able to identify those subdomains and let the world wide web know that they exist and point to some files/folders on a computer somewhere.

When you signed up for a domain through the Emerson.build system your name servers were chosen for you. So when people type in your address, the server responds with information about your account. When you migrate an account away from one hosting platform (like Emerson.build) and onto a new service, it will require you to change the name servers so that your domain name points to a new server with its own files and structure. It’s also possible to have subdomains that point to entirely different servers than Emerson.build. For example, you could have a subdomain that looks to Tumblr for files.

Using a Custom Domain Name #

Emerson.build currently utilizes subdomains of .emerson.build for the initial signup, however after using your space you may decide you’d like to register a top-level domain. This is typically a .com, .net, .org address, though other options are available. You can do this by registering a domain with a service provider and adding it to your space as an Addon Domain.

To start you’ll need to get the domain registered. When choosing a domain we recommend keeping it all lower-case, avoiding hyphens, keeping it short, and of course it will need to be a unique address. You’ll also need to choose a service provider to register your domain with. Different providers offer different pricing models and features, so it’s a good idea to do some research about your options before you make a choice.

After ensuring the domain is available for purchase you might be prompted to select whether you’d like to protect the contact information associated with the domain. All domain registrations are required to have valid contact information publicly available worldwide, however a proxy service to protect your identity is available for an additional fee. You can read more about this service, ID Protect, at http://docs.reclaimhosting.com/FAQ/ID-Protect-FAQ/.

In most cases, you’ll also be prompted to enter nameservers for the domain. You’ll want to point the nameservers to ns1.reclaimhosting.com and ns2.reclaimhosting.com (if those aren’t already selected) in order for the domain to work with our system.

Once you’ve completed the checkout process with payment information the domain will be registered automatically. The last step is to add it to your existing account here at Emerson.build. To do that you’ll log into your account at https://emerson.build/dashboard and in cPanel navigate to Domains > Add-on Domains.

The Addon Domains screen of the cPanel

Here you will type in the domain that you registered previously to host it within your space on Emerson.build. cPanel will also setup a subdomain and a location for files to be saved (typically a folder inside of public_html). You can leave these with their default values. Optionally, you can also create an additional FTP account on this screen.

Additional fields appear when you check the "Create an FTP account" box

Once you’re finished going through the options, click Add Domain. The domain will now be hosted in your Emerson.build account and you can use it to install software, upload files, and any number of other actions available to you in cPanel.

What is a Subdomain? #

Everything you place in your public folder on the server becomes available for anyone on the Web to see (assuming they know the address of your site and the files you’ve placed there). If you’re just putting up a handful of static, HTML pages which you want to make available to colleagues, friends, or family by sending them links, then keeping all of your files within this one folder may work fine. As soon as your site starts to get more complicated and targeted towards a broader audience, however, you should consider a new organization strategy.

Consider this scenario: you want to have a personal blog on your new web space, where you share pictures and short written pieces with family, friends, and colleagues. In addition, you’re working on a large research project that requires you to build a web-based repository of digital images related to your discipline. You want to use one application (say, WordPress) to manage your personal blog. For your research project, you’ve settled on another open-source application (say, Omeka). Both of these are applications that need to be installed on your web host, but you can’t just put them both at your main domain name – if you did, both sites would quickly experience conflicts and errors. You need to cordon off separate spaces for your different web “properties.”

A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. Consider Google’s website and suite of apps.

Google’s main search engine is located at “google.com“.

To access your Google email account, you’re directed to “mail.google.com“. When you view an email, draft messages, or change your email settings, your web browser is looking for that content within the part of the site indicated by the “mail.google.com” URL.

If you next want to access Google Drive, you’re instead directed to “drive.google.com“. Your documents live within the portion of the site indicated by this different URL.

The difference in the URL corresponds with which application you’re using: mail, drive, or just the main search. You can also see this at work when you use other Google applications, such as “calendar.google.com” and “maps.google.com“. Each of these is a different subdomain of google.com.

As you can see the subdomains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective and they help users visually identify that they are in a new/different space. As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like, and in each subdomain you can actually create a distinct website. Keep in mind, however, that the domain name you receive when you sign up for Emerson.build is already itself a subdomain of emerson.build. This means that when you create a new subdomain of this domain, it will be of the form: subdomain.yourdomain.emerson.build.

Subdomains are not the only way to organize your domain space, however. You can read more about another organization strategy in the “Subdomains vs. Subdirectories” portion of this documentation. When you’re ready, we also have additional information on how to set up subdomains.

Subdomains vs. Subdirectories #

There are two primary strategies for parceling up your web space. You can create subdomains or subdirectories. Before you can understand the difference, you need to first understand what we mean when we talk about your root domain.

Root Domain

Let’s say you’ve registered a new custom domain name called yourdomain.com. Anything that is stored at this core URL is considered to be at the root of your domain. Nothing comes before or after the address. If you only want to have a single site on your web host (say a blog running WordPress), then you can set that blog up at your domain’s root. To get to your blog in this scenario, users would simply go to yourdomain.com.

Subdomains

As we discuss in the “What is a Subdomain?” portion of this documentation, subdomains are one option for organizing your Emerson.build space if you want to do something more complex than having a single site at your domain’s root. Subdomains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective and they help users identify at a glance that they are in a new/different space.

As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like and in each subdomain you can actually create a distinct website.

Subdirectories

The alternative for organizing your space is to set up subdirectories. These function much like file folders on your computer. Instead of creating a blog at blog.yourdomain.com you could place it in a subdirectory called “blog” making the address yourdomain.com/blog.

Setting up a subdirectory is really easy. You can create folders on the fly when installing applications (like WordPress) and you can also manually create them in your File Manager.

There is one particular issue you need to be aware of when using subdirectories. Let’s say you’ve installed WordPress to be your primary blog at yourdomain.com and you’ve created a page in this WordPress blog with the URL yourdomain.com/gallery to put pictures on. Later, you decide you want to create an image gallery site using a new application. You want to place it in a subdirectory “gallery” so that viewers can access it at yourdomain.com/gallery. However, this URL is already taken by the WordPress gallery page. If you try to create a subdirectory of the same name, you’ll get a conflict and errors. Either the existing page or the new application will need a new URL. If you choose to rename the existing page, that will break any links or bookmarks that users may have saved.

Tips & Review

  • Subdomains must be created first before you can install anything in them. However, you’re less likely to get conflicts or errors.
    • For Emerson.build sites, your default domain name is already itself a subdomain of emerson.build. This means that when you create a new subdomain of this domain, it will be of the form: subdomain.yourdomain.emerson.build.
  • Subdirectories are easier to set up and can be created during the application installation process. They can, however, result in conflicts with existing pages of your site.
  • As soon as you create subdomains or subdirectories to organize your site, you need to consider how people are going to find them. If you’ve created a new primary blog at blog.yourdomain.com, and someone goes to just yourdomain.com, they won’t see that new site. It is possible to set up redirects to avoid this issue. You can also always create links from pages on one subdomain of your site to another.
  • If you really just need one site, sometimes installing at the root of your domain is the easiest thing to do, at least as you’re getting started. You can always add more pieces to your territory later with either subdomains or subdirectories.

Setting Up Subdomains #

A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. To create a subdomain, use the following steps:

Login to Emerson.build with your Emerson username and password to access your cPanel. Once logged in, you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. The easiest way to navigate the panel is using the Search box in the top right panel. Click the Search box and type “subdomains” (without the quotes). Then, scroll down and click the Subdomains button on the cPanel.

Search for Subdomains using the Search box.

Choose a name for your subdomain and type it into the Subdomain box. Just like top-level domains (e.g. createoutestdomain.com), subdomains can only contain numbers, letters, and hyphens, and the best subdomains are simple, short, and descriptive. Once you’ve typed in a name, cPanel will automatically populate the Document root field for you. This will create a folder to contain your subdomain’s files. You’ll usually want this folder to match the name of your subdomain, so it’s easy to identify where different files live in your account. You might want to change the document root if you already have a folder in your account that has the same name as the subdomain you are trying to create, although this should be rare.

cPanel automatically generates the Document Root after you enter the Subdomain's name.

Once you’re done, click Create. If everything went well, you should see a message that your subdomain was created successfully. Your subdomain will now be available as an option for automatic installation of various software (WordPress, MediaWiki, etc). If you prefer to install web applications manually, you can do so in the document root (folder) you created in step 5.

Cloning applications to a new subdomain/subdirectory #

The domain name that you choose during sign up will stay with you through all of your current and future build projects. This is why we recommend choosing a general and enduring name, such as a variation of your name. However, while working on your site, you might find that the name you chose doesn’t adequately describe your project anymore. In this instance, it is possible to clone your application to a subdomain or a subdirectory of your site that has a more desirable name.

If you want to clone your site to a subdirectory (so, the URL would change from something like YOURNAME.emerson.build to YOURNAME.emerson.build/project), you can create that directory during the cloning process. To clone to a subdomain (which would change the URL from YOURNAME.emerson.build to project.YOURNAME.emerson.build), the subdomain needs to be set up ahead of time.

Once you’re ready, head to the “My Apps”/”My Applications” area from your cPanel Dashboard.

  1. To the right of the name of the app you want to clone is a row of buttons, the “clone” button looks like a forked arrow. Click it.
    Single application row in the cPanel with Clone button marked
  2. On the “Clone” screen, verify that the correct information appears in the “Source” box. Under “Destination”, choose a previously created domain or enter a subdirectory name in the “Directory” field.
    • You will see the URL and file path for the cloned site listed below these fields.
  3. The other settings can be left as their defaults to automatically create and copy databases and settings.
  4. Click the “Clone” button at the bottom of the form. Depending on the size of your application, this may take some time to complete. A progress bar will keep you updated.
  5. After verifying that the cloned site works as expected, you can delete the original.

Tip: Cloning your application can also be used to test new themes and plugins without affecting your published content.

What is Domain Mapping? #

Domain mapping, simply put, is deciding where visitors should be directed when they visit various pieces of your website. Domains and subdomains can be mapped directly to folders located within your webhosting account, where you may have installed WordPress, Omeka, MediaWiki, or other web applications. Domains and subdomains can also be mapped to some third-party providers.

When You Leave #

You retain access to your Emerson.build domain for one year after you graduate or leave Emerson. After one year, you will lose access to your Emerson account and your domain along with it. To retain ownership of your domain, you have several options: pay Reclaim Hosting a small yearly fee to keep everything; download your entire site to store on your computer; or move everything over to another hosting provider.

Using Reclaim Hosting

Emerson.build is hosted through Reclaim Hosting. Through our partnership with them, you’re eligible to have your domain and content automatically migrated to a full hosting account at a 20% discount. Follow the instructions below, and Reclaim Hosting will complete your migration for you. You won’t have to provide any login information since they control the servers on both sides.

To sign up for your own Reclaim Hosting domain:

1. Log-in to Emerson.build.

2. Hover your mouse over Manage Your Account in the top navigation menu, and click on Migration Information in the dropdown menu.

Find the Migration Information button under Manage Your Account at the top dashboard of the cPanel.

3. Click on Get Started in the Migration Offer box.

Clicking "Migration Information" takes you to a Migration Offer from Reclaim Hosting, where you can click "Get Started."

4. You will be given the option to 1) register a new domain, 2) transfer your domain from another registrar, or 3) use your existing domain and update your nameservers.

Reclaim Hosting's options for migrating from Emerson.build.

If your site’s URL ends in Emerson.build, and you have never used a different URL or purchased hosting from somewhere else, the Register a new domain option allows you to get your own personal domain with Reclaim Hosting (outside of Emerson.build). Your site will no longer be located at “yoursite.emerson.build,” and you’ll be able to purchase a new URL.

If you have purchased (or intend to purchase) a URL from a different hosting company, but still want your site to be hosted with Reclaim Hosting, select the I will use my existing domain and update my nameservers option. Your site will be migrated to a personal Reclaim Hosting account, but then you will have to update the information that tells the other hosting company (that you got your URL from) where your site is located. It’s possible to get your hosting and URL from two separate companies, but it’s often easier and cheaper to get them together.

If you already have a site that’s hosted somewhere else, and want to transfer everything to a personal Reclaim Hosting account, select Transfer your domain from another registrar.

Other Hosting Providers

If you don’t want to continue with Reclaim and would rather use a different hosting company, you can download all your site files independently, purchase a URL, and upload the files to your new domain through FTP.

Advanced Information #

Static and Dynamic Websites #

Static Websites

In the early days of the Web, almost all Web sites were what is known as 'static sites.' Content (text, images, video, audio, etc), was placed or embedded in a file in which HTML tags were used to format it.

The content and the tags lived side-by-side. To edit the page, you’d open up the file (on your own computer) in a program capable of editing HTML files and make changes to either the content or the presentation. Every page had to be edited individually, even if the edits you were making were for common elements that appeared on many pages (like menu bars).

From a technical perspective, accessing a static Web site is fairly straightforward. When your computer is connected to the Internet, you can use a Web browser to access files on a Web server (as long as you know the address). The Web server delivers the contents of those files to your browser, and your browser displays them.

Dynamic Websites

Over time, as the Web became more sophisticated, new systems emerged for creating and managing Web sites. These moved beyond the model of having content and HTML tags live in a simple HTML page which your browser accessed and displayed. Instead, these systems were Web applications – software that literally runs on the Web server and makes it possible to manage a Web site, often with very sophisticated features. One feature of these applications is that they separate content and presentation by storing most content (your text, images, etc) and data about the site (the title, options, etc). in a database.

On the Web server, the Web application installs files that are written in some kind of programming language. The server reads this code and obeys any requests in it to access data in the database (which lives on a separate server) and displays it according to the instructions in the code.

Essentially, the data for the site (living in a series of tables in a database on the database server) is entirely separate from the actual presentation of the site (living in the code of the programmed files on the Web server). Special software on both the Web server and the Database server enable the two to speak to each other and work together.

One of the benefits of using a Web application is that you usually don’t need to touch (or even look at!) the code in order to make changes to your content. In addition, editing the site usually involves accessing some kind of control panel through your Web browser and filling out a form, instead of having to download and access files in software on your own computer.

Dynamic vs Static Content

Sometimes when we talk about the difference between dynamic and static content we get bogged down in the idea of whether or not the content is “fresh” (dynamic, regularly updated) or “old” (static, never updated). How frequently you update your content has nothing to do with what kind of system you are using to manage your site. You can manage a static Web site (as described above) and update the content every day. You can also have a dynamic Web site (running something like WordPress) and never change the content after you create it.

Generally speaking, it IS easier to regularly update content on a dynamic Web site because the Web application just makes it easier. Sometimes, even when you just want a very basic page or placeholder, it’s easier to install a Web application (and only put up a single page) then to manually create an HTML page and upload it.

A Side Note about Separating Content from Presentation: Style Sheets

Another aspect of separating content from presentation involves the use of 'Cascading Style Sheets' (CSS). These are special files that live on your Web server and are linked to your Web pages. They contain information (written in a special markup language) about how to make elements on your site look. They allow you, for example, to define in a single location what all Level 1 Headings look like on your site. They are an important aspect of understanding how to separate content from presentation, but they’re not really an aspect of the difference between static and dynamic sites. Both static and dynamic sites can use style sheets.

LAMP Environments #

When you sign up for emerson.build, you get space on a Web host that is associated with the project. There are a few things you need to know about the Web host that will make it easier to understand what you can do with your new space.

The Web Server

The Web server is the main computer that is associated with the emerson.build hosting account. It’s literally a computer, but it’s a computer that has special software on it that allows it to be accessible via the Web. The files that run your applications, images or video you upload, or any other files you upload into your Web space are stored on this server.

(For comparison’s sake, your desktop or laptop computer, by default, doesn’t allow this; I can’t access files on your computer through a Web browser by default. You CAN actually install Web server software on your own computer, essentially making your files accessible over the Web.)

In order to run, a Web server has an operating system installed and some kind of Web server software. The emerson.build server runs the 'LINUX' operating system and an 'APACHE' Web server.

The Database Server

In addition to the Web server, there is also an associated database server. This is another computer, but it is configured with software that allows it to host databases. It is also connected to your Web server so that your applications (hosted on the Web server) can retrieve data (from databases hosted on the database server).

Databases come in LOTS of varieties. The kind of database you can use for a Web application depends on the kind of software that’s installed on the database server. The emerson.build server can run 'MYSQL' databases.

The Programming Language

When you install open-source software on your Web account, it’s going to be written in some programming language. Your Web server has software installed on it that allows it to understand different languages. If you install software that’s written in a language that your Web server doesn’t read, it won’t work.

The emerson.build server has software installed on it that allows it to understand 'PHP''PERL', and 'PYTHON'.

Add it Together: LAMP

If you take a look at all the descriptions above, you can determine that we are running what is known as a LAMP server for create.ou.edu:

  • Linux (operating system)
  • Apache (Web server)
  • MySQL (database server)
  • PHP/PERL/PYTHON (programming language)

Applications that are written for LAMP environments will, presumably, run on the server. HOWEVER, some applications do require additional extensions or libraries that aren’t included, by default, in a LAMP environment. The applications you can install via Installatron (in cPanel) should work just fine.

What makes LAMP environments special is that all of the component parts are open-source. Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, PERL, and PYTHON are all open-source programs or systems. Anyone can download them (for free) and install them. Anyone can also modify them and redistribute them. As a result, there are lots of online resources for using these systems that have been built by their communities of users. But, also as a result, since you’re not paying for these systems, you can’t just call up a company and ask them to fix a problem.

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